“Family Responsibility Discrimination” is not the same as Sexism

I’m all for equality, but for equality of opportunity, not some feel good, “let’s move all the targets around so that everyone in the special groups gets a prize” equality, so things like this from a Slate article about Working Mother Magazine’s list of best places to work, frustrate me to no end:

Novartis isn’t alone in having serious dissonance between its official policies and the experiences of its female workers. Thirty-six companies that have been on Working Mother‘s 100 Best Companies list have faced “family responsibilities discrimination” suits filed by employees who are pregnant or care for young children, sick family members, or aging parents, according to Calvert. Plaintiffs prevailed in 15 of those cases, including in suits against Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young, two accounting firms often heralded for their efforts to retain women by instituting family-friendly policies.

In many ways, Novartis fits right in with patterns observed in this emerging legal area. With more than 2100 family responsibilities discrimination cases having taken place so far, lawyers in the field have begun to make classifications among them, coining terms like “maternal wall discrimination” to describe cases involving working mothers, “new supervisor syndrome,” in which a working parent doesn’t run into trouble until a new boss comes along, or “second child bias.” (Ditto, except it’s a second baby that comes along.)

I”ve done a lot of research on employment discrimination, but I have to admit that I have not seen the term “family responsibility discrimination” before.  I don’t understand why, if an employee has other responsibilities, whether they be to family, a second job, a hobby, or anything else, that interfere with the job that the employer needs done, the employer is somehow wrong for taking that into account.

Women will never get ahead as long as they keep claiming the mantel of family responsibility for their own, because an employer who needs an employee in a high level position needs that employee’s responsibility to be work.  Obviously, in most families with small children, there are going to be important responsibilities that must be attended to, and those responsibilities will sometimes have to come before one person’s job.  This is why it is foolish to think that a two people can both be full service parents and high achievers in their career as well.  One member of the family must put his or her career on pause occasionally, which may mean, and should mean, that you will be less important to your employer.  Unless you happen to be married to a senator, an employer simply isn’t going to pay big bucks for a job in which the employee is not vital to the organization. 

Individual families must work out which party will carry this role, or find a way to divide it, with both the family positives and the career negatives going to each party.  Someone’s career must suffer if there are family responsibilities to attend to.  Women do themselves a sexist disservice to assume that that person must always be the woman, and to expect employers to simply ignore and absorb the resulting costs.


It drives me crazy that this is a trend now

My husband and I got engaged during my sophmore year in college, and married the summer between my junior and senior years.  He had dropped out of college, with 4 semesters under his belt, the year before we met, but has held a couple of retail management jobs that he excells at, as his subordinants and superiors alike never miss an opportunity to tell me. 

So we had always at least considered the idea that I would be the primary breadwinner and higher earner.  But when I graduated college with a B.S. degree in the truest sense of the word, and no clear idea of what to do next, we sort of hit a standstill.  I got a good but not great job at an insurance company; he continued to manage retail; we earned similar salaries and were happy and good, but stagnant and stuck.

I had always excelled in academia, and when I flirted with the idea of law school, he supported me wholehartedly.  The insurance job was fine, but neither one of us could leave to raise children, and as we matured, we had begun to both take on a Dr. Laura-like attitude that day care was certainly no place for babies.  So I would go to law school; I would get a lawyer job, and he would raise the kids.  (At least to those completely unable to anticipate the disaster that would hit the legal market), it made perfect sense. 

Most of my law school classmates gave it lip service as a good idea, but I could see that they thought it something that they  would never do; after all, the females would marry up, ot at least equal, and shun the “lower classes” who lacked a degree. 

But now, the New York Times tells me that everyone’s doing it.  (via Ann Althouse) And, of course, that it is full of problems we must analyze and navel-gaze to death. 

Related: Dr. Helen writes of an article about “operational sex ratios” (where one sex outnumbers the other, as is found among college-educated women). 

The rest of the article seems to go on about how women cannot find guys suitable enough for them because they (the women) are too highly educated and too “high level” [my words] for the men they date.

Hmm, so if I were in the market today, with a J.D., I would have a world of lesser-educated fellows for the taking?  Damn. 

Kidding, kidding.  Since I met my fellow when I was a mere freshman in college, and he’s still the one I would pick, no question, I must have won the freakin’ lottery.

Apparently, there’s a “Divorce” magazine

And, even more oddly, it’s featuring an article on how to have a “successful divorce.” 

“Successful” failure of a marriage.  I don’t know what to say, other than the fact that I really hope nobody’s getting subscriptions to this.

The Couger and the Boxer

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a lovely story about a couple celebrating their 80th year of marriage.   

Mitchell and Mattie Atkins were married in Jacksonville, Floria on Jan. 14, 1930.

Given some of the facts in their long life of love, it would be tempting to title this tale: “The Boxer and the Cougar,” but it would only be partly true.

What’s really true is what happened in their livingroom on Thursday as they reiminisced about their marriage.

“She was the prettiest thing in the whole world,” said Mr. Atkins, 97, known in his family as Daddy Mitch. “And she’s still the loveliest.”

Wheelchair bound with crippling arthritis, Mrs. Atkins, 103, is almost completely deaf. She can hear when a daughter shouts right into her ear. So, on Thursday, Ronye Smaller leaned close and repeated her father’s words.

A smile spread over Mrs. Atkins’ face, moving from eyes to lips. “He’s a joy to be around.” she said, then joked about her husband’s kisses.

“I find no fault in him, except he always comes up by me slobbering on me.”

They were married in 1930.  He was 17; she was 23.  Can you imagine?

A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle, Assuming That the Woman Can Be Taken Care of By the Government

I’ve been mulling over this article, from the women-centric, “unabashedly intellectual, but not dry or condescending,” allegedly feminist Slate spin-off Double X for quite a few days, and I still can’t come up with exactly what I can say about it.  Have you ever had someone say something to you that was so offensive, so unabashedly insulting, that you are literally too shocked to respond?  Erika Kawalek says (bolding mine, of course):

I want to emphasize something about the difference between the state of affairs for women in America and in the rest of the civilized world. The competitiveness people bring to “dating” and “closing the deal” here is underpinned by intense economic competition and the desire—increasingly, the necessity—for basic social and physical security. There is a secret amongst the Canadian and European women living in the Big Apple. I know this because I am Canadian and my closest girlfriend is French, and when we resident aliens get together we really tear up this country and how it treats its women. (Our dating lives are fine and always have been.) When we talk about dating or the possibility of having family, with a man or on our own or with—gasp!—a coven of like-minded women (why not?), the conversation is framed entirely by the fact that we can count on our native countries to look after us should we—for whatever reason—not be able to make ends meet stateside. Now, we should be able to secure decent futures for ourselves, with or without male partners: We have Ivy League degrees, speak multiple languages, are savvy and entrepreneurial. We are also a lot more calm about dating and mating than the American women we know, who seem plagued by contradictory forces. . . .

I’m always baffled that women here don’t demand the same benefits on which we Canadian and European women rely. It would make dating and mating a lot easier, that’s for certain. American family values? Where are they?

So, the basic thesis of the article, the entire assumption of the argument, is that women can be, nay, should be, more equal by being parented by the state.  Kawalek argues that America is keeping women down by not providing, to all extents imaginable, any and all needs of any children they should choose to bear.  That the state is keeping us poor women from landing a husband by not offering to pick up any and all slack that he may leave behind (to say nothing at all about the slack that the woman should and could cover on her own).  The implicit, but clear, assumption underlying this article is that the woman is not capable of covering her own life’s costs. 

It’s notable that Kawalek’s suggestions about the security brought to Europeans is clearly, egregiously incorrect.  She never even considers the facts that these policies in no way correlate with higher marriage rates, indeed marriage rates in France, Canada, and almost all of Europe are far below ours.  The European fertility rates have dropped so far as to be considered a crisis, and Canada’s is similarly low, yet our American rates are still at replacement levels.  Men and women are simply not refusing to date and mate as a result of our smaller safety net.  Facts are, as usual, completely irrelevant to liberals when compared to what “should work” based on whatever theory happens to be in their heads. 

But I’m used to that.  I should be used to liberals assuming that women, like minorities, are completely incapable of things that men are expected to do with no problem (somebody, of course, has to be producing the wealth that is going to be taken away from them and provided to the helpless females in Kawalek’s world). 

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, said in his link to this article that the “dating secrets of Canadian and European women” referred to here “revolve around the state playing the role of the husband.”  I think Reynolds is too generous.  A husband expects some contribution and partnership with the wife.  Kawelek clearly wants a world where the state plays the daddy to the helpless child, dotingly covering any and all possible bumps in the road.  She, and her liberal cohorts, have so little respect for women, for me, for you or your wife or your mother or your daughter or your sister, that she thinks that it is only to be expected that we would need and demand that “help.”

Is it weird that that’s weird now?

The other day, I was chatting with an acquaintance who had celebrated his wedding a few weeks before.  As I congratulated him profusely, I asked how married life was treating him.  He commented, positively. that it was weird, like it was a “big sleepover,” he kept expecting that one of them would be heading back soon, that he kept having to remind himself that this was their home now.  And I couldn’t get over how strange that idea, a wedding as being followed by a new experience of living together, sounded to me. 
Virtually everyone I know in my peer group lived together before marriage.  Ten years ago, I didn’t even plan to, and I rejected saying it, but circumstances ended up to the point that it just seemed incredibly silly not to (I, a student at the time, even maintained an on-campus place (scholarship funded) for a few months of our engagement, even though I had never spent the night there, left nothing more than the backseat of a car full of “stuff” there, and didn’t even learn two of my three roommates’ names).  I know people that, even into their late twenties, hid living situations from their parents, in a bizarre sort of don’t ask, don’t tell.  But almost everyone lived together first. 
It’s gotten to the point that not living together first just seems strange.  Does that sound right?